Guinea + 4 more

IRIN Update 618 of events in West Africa

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for West Africa
Tel: +225 21 73 54
Fax: +225 21 63 35

GUINEA: Growing calls for Conde's release

There is growing pressure on Guinea's government to release opposition politician Alpha Conde who has been in prison for just over a year, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Conde's lawyers have said they have not yet received full details of the charges against the politician, whose family and friends have been refused permission to see him, Reuters reported.

Conde, who was arrested shortly after a presidential poll in which he was a candidate, was charged with trying to leave the country illegally at a time when the borders were officially closed for voting and of seeking to recruit troops to destabilise Guinea.

One opposition politician told Radio France Internationale that the jailing of Conde had damaged Guinea's image abroad and appealed to the president to find a solution. Mamadou Ba, leader of an opposition alliance that includes Conde's party, said the government had turned its back on democracy, Reuters reported.

GUINEA: Journalist reportedly arrested

The editor-in-chief of the weekly 'L'Independant Plus', part of the private L'Independant group, was arrested on Wednesday for reasons which are unclear, according to AFP.

Colleagues of Saliou Samb think he was detained in connection with an article on corruption that appeared in the parent paper, 'L'Independent', and which made serious accusations against a member of the government, AFP reported.

The newspaper group's founder was arrested last week and detained for 48 hours without being charged, AFP said.

GUINEA-BISSAU: Bar association elects new president

Guinea-Bissau's bar association has elected Carlos Pinto Pereira as its new president in what one humanitarian source told IRIN was an indication that the country was returning to normalcy. Pereira was sworn in on Wednesday, according to the source.

"It's a positive step." said the source, who said the association had been less active than it used to be because of the civil war that broke out in the country in June 1998. The revival of the association, he said, would help to provide checks and balances to the power of the office of the attorney general.

MALI: Amnesty recommends human rights measures for West Africa

Amnesty International has recommended that the incoming chairman of West Africa's largest economic grouping ensure human rights are respected by all 16 governments in the subregion.

Amnesty's secretary-general, Pierre Sane, made the recommendation on Friday in a meeting with Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare, the incoming chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Sane recommended that Mali make sure the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, adhere to international humanitarian and human rights laws whenever it is deployed.

Amnesty wants ECOWAS to guarantee the freedom of human rights defenders and set up a human rights unit to monitor and review rights violations.

Amnesty also suggested that ECOWAS, the Organisation of African Unity and the UN Security Council support impartial investigations into rights abuses and to try perpetrators. It cited Sierra Leone and Niger as two ECOWAS countries where such investigations should be held.

Other calls were for a halt to the flow of small arms to those who may use them to commit human rights abuses, for Mali to take the lead in ensuring that female genital mutilation is ended in all ECOWAS countries, and in promoting the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

NIGERIA: Yobe bans alcohol, orders prostitutes to marry or leave

The Yobe State House of Assembly has passed a motion banning the sale of alcohol and giving prostitutes two weeks to marry or leave the state, Voice of Nigeria has reported.

As part of its move to impose Islamic law, the house also ordered all women working in the state to dress properly, the radio reported on Monday. It did not spell out the dress code.

Women's rights groups in Nigeria have condemned the imposition of Sharia in northern states as an infringement of their basic and constitutionally guaranteed rights. So far, Zamfara has imposed the Sharia, while Kano, Sokoto and Kaduna are taking steps to apply it.

NIGERIA: Special police squad set up to deal with Delta problems

Nigeria's government has set up a specialised police unit to deal with communal violence in the Niger Delta, according to news reports quoting Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Abubakar said the police would collaborate with the army to check communal clashes, 'The Guardian' reported.

Militant youths in the Niger Delta have been kidnapping employees of multinational oil firms, seizing oil-flow stations and taking other violent action to press their demands for development and the cleaning up of the oil-polluted environment of their area.

NIGERIA: Northern group begins self-defence training

A northern group calling itself the Arewa People's Congress (APC) has said it will begin full self-defence training for northern residents, the 'Post Express' reported on Friday.

APC spokesman Asaph Zadok said in Kano on Monday that the self- defence measure was in reaction to attacks on Hausas by the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), a Yoruba pressure group in the south.

"Northerners are not only capable of protecting themselves, they are also capable of responding promptly and appropriately," Zadok was quoted as saying. He called on former Nigerian presidents such as Ibrahim Babangida and Shehu Shagari to help the group. Zadok said the OPC was taking advantage of the fact that the country's president was a Yoruba to secede from Nigeria with the connivance of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba group.

BURKINA FASO: Six charged with inciting army rebellion

Six members of the 'Collectif des organisations democratiques de masse et de partis politiques' have been charged with lowering morale and inciting dissidence within the army, the 'Observatoire' said in a news release on Thursday.

Those charged are Halidou Ouedraogo, president of the Collectif, Tole Sagnon, secretary-general of the Confederation generale du travail du Burkina (CGTB), Norbert Tiendrebeogo, president of the Front des Forces Sankaristes, Benewende Sankara, representative of the Union generale des etudiants du Burkina (UGEB), Jean-Claude Medah, representative of the Association des journalistes du Burkina and Andre Tibiri, president of the Union generale des etudiants du Burkina.

Paulin Yameogo, director of the newspaper 'San Finna' has also been charged. Their trial has been set for 27 December in Ouagadougou and they could receive prison sentences of one to five years, the Observatoire, a body set up to defend human rights, reported.

Abidjan, 17 December 1999; 17:25 GMT


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